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Sleeping Bag Overview (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)

Sleeping Bags continue to drop weight with new materials and construction techniques.

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by Mike Martin | 2006-08-13 03:00:00-06

Overview

Sleeping Bags continue to evolve this year. It seems everyone now has "lightweight" products in their line. Some manufacturers' idea of lightweight would be laughed at by most Backpackinglight readers, but still, even mainstream companies like Lafuma now have lighter bags, and at a lower price than the premium niche-market lightweight products available in the past.

This year also sees increased adoption of technologies like laminated insulation. First introduced decades ago in heavyweight bags by Wiggy's, welding or laminating the insulation to the shell and/or liner of a bag simplifies construction, and eliminates the need for quilting, scrim, and baffles to stabilize the insulation. The North Face, Marmot, and Mountain Hardwear now have lightweight bags with this construction.

Several new bags save weight through innovative features and new materials. New proprietary synthetic insulations, as well as widely available Climashield are now appearing. A new non-calendered, down-proof shell material also debuts in a Montbell bag.

Sleeping Bag Overview (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006) - 1
Lafuma Pro 650g Down Bag. A conventional mummy bag with 750+ fill-power down and a 20d Polyamide shell. This bag shows how mainstream companies are getting lighter. This bag has an MSRP of only $190. That's not bad for a 25°F 750+ FP down bag that weighs 23oz (claimed).

Sleeping Bag Overview (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006) - 2
Marmot Mountain 30 Bag. Marmot laminates their new proprietary, continuous, high-void insulation called Thermaclime to the shell to eliminate stitching and reduce weight. Strangely, they stitch a second insulation layer to the bag's liner, claiming that the stitched construction has improved breathability over laminating due to the glue used in lamination. I expect this will provide a nice next-to-skin feel, but will result in diminishing air permeability as you move from the skin out that may trap more moisture in the bag than if the construction were reversed with the laminated layer on the inside. The $139 MSRP bag is rated at 30°F and weighs 2 lb, 3oz (claimed).

Sleeping Bag Overview (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006) - 3
The North Face Propel Bag with welded insulation construction. We reported on the Pertex Quantum shelled Propel bag with welded Polarguard Delta insulation at ORSM 2004. Since then, the Propel bag has gained a vented footbox, and switches this year to Climashield insulation. Both of these changes unfortunately add weight to the bag, now at 19 oz (claimed). A full review of the updated Propel is planned.

Sleeping Bag Overview (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006) - 4
Western Mountaineering Summerlite Bag. We first covered this bag at ORWM 2005. At 18oz with full zip and 4 inches of fully-baffled single layer loft (claimed), it remains the lightest standard mummy bag for its loft. Gary Schaezlein, the owner of Western Mounteering, says that his company has been swamped fulfilling orders for existing products and has pushed back availability of this bag to Spring 2007. Don Wilson has been using this bag on the PCT this summer. We'll publish a complete review soon.

Sleeping Bag Overview (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006) - 5
Montbell ul super stretch down hugger bag with new 800 fill-power down and revised the shell fabric. The new lightweight non-calendered but still down-proof shell fabric promises enhanced breathability. The use of 800 fill-power down puts it more in line with competitors' premium down products.

Sleeping Bag Overview (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006) - 6
Big Agnes King Solomon. A 600 fill-power down couples top bag rated at 15°F and weighing 4lb, 12oz (claimed). What can I say? Alan and Alison look pretty comfortable in it. Actually, it is fairly weight efficient for a 15 degree bag at 38 ounces per person - just choose your bag mate carefully.

Sleeping Bag Overview (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006) - 7
Mountain HardWear Men’s UltraLamina 45 Synthetic Bag. Using a new proprietary short-staple insulation called Thermic Micro, claimed to be 50% easier to stuff than their older Thermic CF, this bag offers dual zip entry with half-zips extending from the neck on either side of the bag. This allows the user to sit up and use their arms to cook or read like in similar bags from Nunatak, Feathered Friends, and Exped. MH is using the new insulation throughout their bag line this year. It's laminated to the shell in this bag, hence the UltraLamina name. 1 lb 8oz, MSRP $165.


Citation

"Sleeping Bag Overview (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)," by Mike Martin. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/sleeping_bag_overview_orsm06.html, 2006-08-13 03:00:00-06.

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Sleeping Bag Overview (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Sleeping Bag Overview (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006) on 08/14/2006 10:38:14 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Sleeping Bag Overview (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Lafuma Pro – Buy of the Year? on 08/14/2006 14:04:44 MDT Print View

While most of us have high regard for sleeping bags by elite makers such as W.M., and would probably choose one without deliberation if an outfitter said to you, “Pick any bag you want for free!” (Sorry, just a reoccurring dream that I have.) However, in the real world of mosquitoes, poison ivy, thieving raccoons, etc., if you could get a bag that’s 90% as good as the “elite” bags for 60% of the price … WOW! After all, this is the most expensive component of backpacking. I’d love to see BPL review these bags and give some stats on dimensions, fill weight and loft. The Lafuma web site is lacking in details.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Lafuma Pro – Buy of the Year? on 08/14/2006 15:34:34 MDT Print View

Michael-

I agree it certainly looks promising from a value standpoint. I don't have any further specs on dimensions, fill weight, or loft at this time. I'll try to get one to test if there's enough interest. Their new "Pro" series of bags also includes 0 degree and 15 degree versions. But, it's unclear at this time if/when any of these will be available in the US. I got the impression that they were testing the market for interest before committing to production.